Updated May, 2016
I often am asked for restaurant suggestions in Tokyo. Wow. Where does one begin? The food is amazing, from the high end kaiseki restaurants and sushi counters to the neighborhood ramen shop or izakaya. Even on a budget it is very easy to eat well in Tokyo.
Let me put here just some of my recommendations of restaurants based on the types of food one should try when visiting. Also, one should consider location as the city is so big and there are so many great restaurants, it may not be necessary to traverse the metropolis.
Tempura – Kondo (Ginza), Zezankyo (Monzennakacho), or Tenko (Kagurazaka), Taniya (Ningyocho)
Value-priced tempura – Tenmatsu (Nihonbashi)
Tofu – Tofuya Ukai (Shiba Koen) – high-end and not exclusively vegetarian.
Pickles – Kintame (Tokyo Station or Monzennakacho) or Nishiri (Nihonbashi)
Meat – New York Grill and Bar (Shinjuku). Exquisite views and service – a splurge. Alternatively Ukaitei teppanyaki (Ginza or Omotesando) – also upscale service, without the view of the New York Grill and Bar. I also love Dons de la Nature in Ginza as the chef cooks the wagyu in a kiln he built just for this purpose. The interior is stuck in the 70s but the steak is good. Just be sure to confirm the price of the steak before ordering as it is market price.
Izakaya – Yamariki (Morishita) or Saiseisakaba (Shinjuku or Monzennakacho).
Kaiseki – Nihonbashi Yukari (Nihonbashi), Waketokuyama (Hiroo), Kikunoi (Akasaka). Note, I’ve been told that Nihonbashi Yukari no longer accepts reservations from non-Japanese. Not sure if this is true and will update this after I speak with the chef.
Ramen – Ginza Kagari is my favorite at the moment. Afuri for the yuzu shio is also excellent. Alternatively, Ippudo (Ueno) or Kyushu Jangara (Nihonbashi or Harajuku). Note that Ginza Kagari in the link above has closed and is now at Ginza 6-4-12 and is now cashless (credit card, Suica, etc.).
Unagi – Nodaiwa (Higashi Azabu)
Monjayaki – Okame Hyottoko Ten (Tsukishima) or Sometaro (Asakusa).
Yakitori – Birdland (Ginza) or Isehiro (Kyobashi)
Oden – Otafuku (Asakusa) or Ogura (Ginza)
My short list of where to drink in Tokyo.
A similar list of culinary highlights in Tokyo from Indagare.
I have also contributed to these great food guides for: